Friday, December 31, 2021


 I read somewhere on some form of social media that New Year's resolutions were bad, but setting intentions was a better thing to do. A resolution puts guard rails around what you want to get done. An intention is a softer form of the resolutions. It states what you want to do, but you don't feel like an abject failure when it doesn't happen. 

I like setting my monthly goals too. Bite sized chunks of goals are far easier to manage than big goals. 

Like my December Goals - which were:

  • Read four books.
  • See four movies
  • Close the rings on my Apple watch at least 25 days of the month.
Well, I managed six books:
  • Kazuo Ishiguro's The Buried Giant
  • Walter Tevis's The Queen's Gambit
  • Ela Baxter's New Animal
  • Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun
  • Andrew O'Hagan's Mayflies
  • Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility
And three films: 
  • West Side Story
  • Spiderman: No Way Home
  • The French Dispatch
But in my defence I also saw a play and made it to another exhibition. So on the arts front, we did well. 

I even watch the first hour of The Godfather before getting bored and turning it off. I might try again. 

And I've managed to close the rings on my Apple Watch 25 times over the month. 

So yes, successful month. 

But what for next year, which is all of thirteen hours away? 

Do I set some big intentions like? 
  • Go out more and discover new places
  • Find a new job which is on great day contract rates once this job is over in June
  • Travel overseas
  • Lose some weight
  • Cook a new dish each week
  • Have people over more often
  • Put myself out there (shudder, recoils back under the bed with the cat)
Or do I just stick to the old favourites of:

  • Read four books.
  • See four movies
  • Close the rings on my Apple watch at least 25 days of the month.
My other questions, do I keep blogging daily. I've managed to file a post every day for the last two years, without fail. It feels like part of me now - part of the process. Or do I give this up all together? I've had this blog for over ten years. Do I give it up?  Give up this writing lark altogether? Or keep going? I'd love your opinions. 

But for the moment, I'll stick with the three mini-goals for January. 

And set those bigger intentions for 2022. 

Happy New Year and all that jazz. I have cats to go feed. 

Thursday, December 30, 2021


I got my booster shot today. 

It was quick, almost painless, over in seconds, easy to get to and basically no fuss at all. I'm a bit curious as to how I'm going to feel tomorrow. I had Astra Zeneca for the first two shots - though anecdotally those having a Pfizer booster after Astra Zeneca first shots appear to tolerate it well. 

Nine hours on, other than a bit of a sore arm, nothing seems to bad. I've kept my fluids up, had a quietish day, been to the gym and had a pedicure. I'm sure all will be fine. Unfortunately, the media hype makes you question this, but you put these thoughts away. If a slightly sore arm, and maybe feeling a bit dodgy tomorrow is the price for keeping myself and the community safer, then so be it. 

Will there be another booster shot? Who knows.

Will they sort out the testing, which appears to be in a dire state at the moment? Who knows. Will the states sort it out? Maybe - I doubt the Federal Government will get anything sorted. They really are that useless.  (as an aside, did anybody else read Perrottet's op-ed piece in the Sydney Morning Herald? He's a supercilious piece of shite? And is it just me or every photo of him with Kerry Chant has her looking at him in disgust? Start a column with "Many people have experienced the heartbreak of cancelled plans over Christmas, thanks to isolation requirements and testing delays caused by Omicron." and find out just how happy people are with you. It's your fault, you turd...)

Yes, it will be good once all this is over. It will be great when we can travel freely again, without the need to stick a stick up your nose. It will be good when we know that people in aged care will have enough healthy staff to go about their days, rather than being left neglected in lock down. That sort of stuff will be good. 

But I've done my little bit today. It's not hard. It didn't hurt. And it's over for the time being. 

Today's song: 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

My year in books

There's two and a bit days left of the year it's time to have a look back and see what I've acheived. 

And other than writing a blog post every day of the year, I have also managed to consume 52 books over the year. Yep, somehow I've managed to get through a book a week. Part of this is because I've taken up listening to audiobooks -  they're a great way to get more bang for your buck - and I listen to these when I'm walking, on public transport and. in the car. I've also started making a commitment to read/listen to four books a month. It makes a difference. 

Anyway, here are some of the highlights of this year's books: 

Best Non-Fiction:

Hands down, that has to be Clementine Ford's How We Love

This memoir-cum-life instruction manual is truly extraordinary in it's generosity of spirit. It's equal parts funny, smart, enlightning, heartbreaking and engaging, as Ford takes us through some of the loves of her life - Her mother, her son, some of her exes... I found myself nodding, screaming at her, laughing and cringing at myself. The people to whom I've recommended this have all thanked me. It's nothing like her other two books - Boys Will Be Boys and Fight Like a Girl. This is far less angry and much more reflective. I listened to this, with the author reading her words (free as a part of the Audible catalogue). I can's recommend this enough.

Other standouts: 
  • The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein
  • A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  • Working Class Boy by Jimmy Barnes

Best Literature: 

Oh, this is a toss up - as I read some great stuff this year. But I can't just say one book. There are two which looking at this list I have to talk about. 

The first is Maggie O'Farrell's much lauded Hamnet. 

This is the story about Shakespeare, so of course I'm going to love it - or more to the point, it's the story of Shakespeare's wife and his son Hamnet, who died at the age of eleven. Next to nothing is known about Hamnet, but O'Farrell fills in the blanks. The writing is incandescent, the story gentle, yet hard hitting. You are immediately transported back to England in the early 1600s. Stunning book. 

The other book I need to call out is Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. 

"Twelve very different people, mostly black and female, more than a hundred years of change, and one sweeping, vibrant, glorious portrait of contemporary Britain. Bernardine Evaristo presents a gloriously new kind of history for this old country: ever-dynamic, ever-expanding and utterly irresistible." 

This book delves into womanhood like no other. It was fascinating. What I loved most was the characters, interwoven, all different, yet all with a very distinct voice. I listened to this one too - and would love to read it again on paper / kindle. In my opinion, this was better that it's co-winner, Margaret Atwood's The Testaments - which was still very good, but this was better. 

Also rans: 
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  • On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
  • Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason
  • Mayflies by Andrew O'Hagan
  • The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis

Best Australian Book

Another tough call, but I'm giving this to The Performance by Claire Thomas. 

"As bushfires rage outside the city, three women watch a performance of a Beckett play.

Margot is a successful professor, preoccupied by her fraught relationship with her ailing husband. Ivy is a philanthropist with a troubled past, distracted by the snoring man beside her. Summer is a young theatre usher, anxious about the safety of her girlfriend in the fire zone.

As the performance unfolds, so does each woman's story. By the time the curtain falls, they will all have a new understanding of the world beyond the stage."

This was phenomenal - three women watching one play, looking at their life. So much happened in this little book. It was though provoking and fascinating - and I delved into Billie Whitelaw's autobiography after this to get a few more insights into Samuel Beckett. It's not everybody's cup of tea, but being a theatre geek, it won me over from the first page. 

Also rans: 
  • A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing by Jessie Tu
  • All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton
  • After Story by Larissa Behrendt
  • New Animal by Ella Baxter
  • Song of the Crocodile by Nardi Simpson
  • Honeybee by Craig Silvey
From the "Why has this sat in my bookshelf for so long?" list. 

Kazuo Ishiguro's The Buried Giant.

I've read a lot of Ishiguro this year. Never Let Me Go is one of my favourite books. I'm half an hour away from finishing Klara and the Sun, which is also sublime. I also read The Remains of the Day this year and really enjoyed it. 

But this was an absolute fizzer. Part Arthurian myth, part travel story, it was slow, annoying and I was left wondering just what the point of it was. It ended up being taken straight to the street library after I finished it. The writing is lovely, but it was pointless - and I'm not sure why it's been lauded. Oh well. 

Other books I didn't like that much: 
  • Toni Morrison's Beloved (Obscure and depressing)
  • Andrew Sean Greer's Less (was better off where it was, propping up the couch)
Best Audiobook: 

Oh, that goes to the Audible version of Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. 

It has a full cast, a different person playing every member of the band. A great book. A great way to take this novel in. It really is superb. 

My other favourite listens were: 
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (read by Carey Mulligan)
  • Piranesi by Susana Clarke (read by Chiwetel Ejiofor)
  • The Wool Hall Trilogy - unabridged - read by Ben Miles - and the only way I'd ever get through all of it - I couldn't do this trilogy on paper.)

And my guilty pleasure:

I read four of the Bridgerton novels. Please don't tell anybody I've done this - they're fairy floss - but they are fun. 

I wonder what next year will bring me in the way of reading. 

Today's song: 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Van Gogh: Lume Melbourne

Exhibiton: Vincent Van Gogh

The Lume, Melbourne Exhibition Centre

As humans, we need art. We need it to sooth our souls. To pacify us. To touch our hearts. To make us think. To transport us to other times and places. Then there are our favourite artists, who can get to the core of our beings at the stroke of a brush. For me, spending half an hour with Vermeer's Girl with the Pearl Earring will go down as one of the best days of my life. I always go back to the Wilton Diptych any time I'm in London. Those angels are amazing. 

What Lume have done is made the words Vincent van Gogh accessible to a larger group by taking his paintings, blowing them up and presenting them as a light, sound and smell installation at the Melbourne Convention Centre.

And it is wonderful.

Lume is an immersive experience. The price of the ticket gets you into the exhibition where you can wander around walls illuminated with Van Gogh's most famous, and not so famous paintings. Accompanying the light show is a curated sound scape with music from recognisable famous composers. 

And it is just delightful. 

After a quick trip around an intial display providing facts abut Van Gogh and his life, you enter the auditorium proper, and from there, it's up to you how you take it in, how long you spend in there and where you take it in from. 

We had a quick wander around before settling on a bench to take in the 45 minute show. 

It's delightful. 

Although not the real thing, seeing these painting blown up as a light show provides and opportunity to experience the paintings on another level. You can sit or like or walk around, taking your time as you view these paintings in another way. Adding to this, some of the illuminations have movement involved, like the Starry Night painiting, which tooks the stars and made them move, or a French town which has a train driving through it. It's magical. 

In addition to this, the exhibition has a smellscape, not that you could smell much from behind the mask, but there was a lovely pumped in scent to the whole auditorium. 

This exhibtion is a joyous interactive experience. We stayed for two showings of the light display, moving from our oriinal position. I sat on the floor in front of a large wall to take it in the second time around. It didn't get old. In between viewings, some smaller clips, one of an indiginous dancer and a story, as well as some other digital art displayed - also breathtaking. 

The only thing I'd change is the booking system - it uses Ticketmaster, and the experience we had booking wasn't great - so you've been warned. There is a phone line you can call. But the earlier you get in and book your time, the cheaper it is. 

My only question is why so many people brought very young children to the exhibition - other than they were a distraction, and loud, I'm not sure what kids under four would get out of this. We were also there around the "Witching Hour" and kids might have been a bit more fractious than usual. 

Another good thing, marshalls were enforcing mask wearing in the auditorium. Most people were compliance, but leave it off too long and you were asked to put it back on. 

But for me, I want to go again. Maybe get a coffee in the exhibition cafe, or just lie on the floor and take it all in. 

And as it uses the senses of sight, touch and taste, it would be lovely to have somebody to go with and hold their hand,  or sit on the ground and snuggle up, just to bring touch into the experience. 

Lume is exhibiting in Melbourne until the end of June 2022, most days  from 10 am until around 9 pm. Tickets sit around the $40 mark depending on availability. It's worth every cent to have your senses delighted in such a awe-inspiring way. 

Today's song:

Monday, December 27, 2021

Movie Review: West Side Story

 Movie: West Side Story (2021)

The Cinema: Hoyts Victoria Gardens

Stars: 4

I walked into this thinking,'Why would they want to mess with something which was already wonderful?' I was also wondering if Stephen Sondheim would be rolling in his freshly dug grave. 

But I should not have worried too much. For once, this remake is as good, in ways better than the original. 

West Side Story, for those who have never seen it, is re-telling of Romeo and Juliet, set in the 1950s in New York. Gone are the Capulets and the Montagues, and bring on the Sharks and the Jets. The Jets are a gang of Irish / Polish  street kids, the Shark are made up of fresh off the boat Latino kids, mainly of Puerto Rican persuasion. They really don't like each other, forever fighthing for turf of what now stands as the Lincoln Centre in New York. 

There was plenty to keep me occupied with this film. First of all, it remains faithful to the original - not that I've seen the original in many years, but I know the music like the back of my hand. The script has had some updates thanks to Tony Kuschner of Angels in America fame (and if you haven't seen the television version of this, please do yourself a favour). Leonard Bernstein's music remains on point and Stephen Sondheim's lyrics have not be messed with for fear of World War III. 

On the great side of things, in this version, the Sharks are all played by Latino actors - not something that happened in 1961, when Natalie Wood played Maria. In this retelling, David Alvarez's Bernardo and Ariana DeBose's Anita were excellent. I wouldn't be surprised if either were nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Newcomer, Rachel Zegler is wonderful as Maria, with a voice, the look and the spunk to pull off the lead role. I wasn't overly convinced about Ansel Elgort's Tony - though is voice and dancing are up to par, he just didn't sit well with me in the other lead role. But as it was pointed out to me, can anybody name the bloke who played Tony in the original movie? 

Other stand outs for me was Rita Moreno's Valentina. She won the Best Supporting Oscar as Anita over fifty years ago - the first Hispanic actor to get that nod. This gives a wonderful link back to the original film. 

Iris Menas's Anybodys and Mike Faist's Riff were also excellent. 

Steven Speilberg's direction is assured and the sets and cinamatography are excellent - in that regard, no not a wrong foot has been set. 

I say go see this. It is wonderful. I'm not a lover of musicals, but this is done so well. 

It's a great film for which you can take your Mum as a treat. 

It's there to be savoured and enjoyed. It also sets right the wrongs of the 1961 version which would never have been considered at the time. 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Sunday Stealing: Holiday Questions

 Well, that's Christmas done for another year. I have some leftover ham in the fridge and half a cassata sitting in the freezer, and that is my Christmas commitments done for the year. Now, as it;'s Boxing Day (or St Stephen's Day as Blarney calls it) I've been for a walk and I've been to the cinema and life is fine.

Now it's time for the Sunday questions, provided as always, by Bev at Sunday Stealing. 

1. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?

Getting some time off to relax. The thing about Christmas in Australia is that everything shuts down on Christmas Eve and nothing really starts up again until the 15th of January. This year, I have the three days off between Christmas and New Year, giving me 10 days off work. And I really, really need this. 

2.  What’s the most annoying thing about this time of year?

In no apparent order: 

  • The heat
  • Having to go to parties and be nice to people
  • The rushing around
  • Other people's expectations
  • People in general
  • Too many Christmas carols
  • Getting asked "What are you doing for Christmas?" every five minutes, then dealing with people's sympathising looks when you tell them you're not going back to Adelaide. 

3.  Who do you celebrate the holidays with?

Normally, and this year, Blarney, Barney, the Units and whoever else comes along. Every five years or so I'll go back to Adelaide for Christmas - COVID made it hard this year. Interstate travel is a bit hard at the moment.

4. Do you travel during the holidays?

I have done in the past. Whether that be going to Tasmania to visit Barney's family or going back to Adelaide. One year I went to Thailand and I was riding elephants on Christmas Day. That was really cool. 

5. Do you prefer giving or receiving gifts?

I really like giving gifts. I'm not great at receiving. It feels weird. 

6. Who is the hardest person to buy a gift for?

I'm of an age where everybody has everything they need and want. Jay is really hard to buy for - she ended up with a small garden gnome to sit under her ficus plant. The gnome will look good under her ficus. 

7. What is your traditional holiday meal?

In Adelaide, we always do seafood and salad for Christmas - and have a really good feed of prawns, oysters and lobster. My job is to make the seafood sauce, which consists of cream, tomato sauce, some mustard, tabasco and a few other secret ingredents. I love prawns. As we had an Irish Christmas this year, there were no prawns - but a lovely ham.

I also made my annual Christmas cassata, in honour of my aunt, who had a birthday on Christmas day. It went down well, but I'm asking a lot of friends over to help me finish it. 

8. Does your town get decorated for the holidays?

Melbourne does to a point. There are traditions like the Myer Christmas windows, which are always pretty but just a little bit creepy. 

9. Do you have a Christmas tree?

No. I don't decorate the house. Never seen the point. I have a Christmas gin bottle which is filled with lights. That will do. 

10. If you have a tree, what is on top of it?

I dont have a tree. If I had one, I'd probably put a star on the top - not an angel - I think they look tacky. 

11. Do you decorate the outside of your house with lights?    

Oh hell no - waste of electricity. It's something other people do. One of my old bosses used to do up his house and garden - I hate to think what his power bill was like. But it made him happy, and that is the mail thing. 

12. What is your favorite holiday memory as a child?

I can't really think of one. Christmas is not my favourite time. I do remember playing cricket in the beach after a ham sandwich was a kid. Beach cricket and ham sandwiches on Christmas Day, especially when it was hot, was a good thing. 

13. What is your favorite holiday dessert?

Other than cassata? I'm very fond of Christmas pudding, topped with my mother's hard sauce, which is really just whipped butter, icing sugar and a hell of a lot of brandy. 

14. Do you have a favorite holiday movie?

Diehard. And don't tell anybody, but I'm quite fond of Love, Actually. And It's a Wonderful Life. And While You Were Sleeping.  And Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

And my favourite Christmas song is today's song of the day. The Pogues do a great Christmas song. 

15. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Having some downtime and spending time with friends. That will do.

Today's song: 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Over for another year

 I don't have the greatest relationship with Christmas, and when it gets to about this time on Christmas Day, if I've got here without tears, it's a good thing. 

No tears. A few were threatened earlier today. I let them pass. 

In all, it was a nice mellow day with Blarney, Barney, the Units and a couple of Blarney's good friends, Aine and Grainne. We had glazed ham, some roast vegetables and quite a bit of cassata. At 6.30 pm, I excused myself and went home to Lucifer, my foam roller and yoga mat. It's going to take a lot help from the last two things on the list to get my body back to feeling like normal. 

Blarney and Barney introduced me to the Moody family on Netflix. We spent the morning whatching this old ABC series. It's hilarious - and probably only accessable to Australians. It's the funniest thing I've seen for a while.

I'm not going go on about why I hate Christmas.It's not the time or place for it. 

But as Christmases go, this was a nice, easly mellow one.

I hope you've all had a pleasant one too. Mellow, quiet, pleasant, calm are good adjectives.

And tomorrow, I can start the holiday proper. 

Today's song: 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Movie Review: Spiderman: No Way Home

 The Film: Spiderman: No Way Home

Stars: 4.5

The Cinema: Hoyts Victoria Gardens

In need of some respite from work and a total time out, after a quick dinner at the Loi Loi, Jay and I made an early session of Spiderman: No Way Home last night. We both like Marvel films and I've been hanging out for a new entry to the MCU. 

Needless to say, we both loved every minute of it. 

I was wrapped from the first song, Talking Heads I Zimbra started playing, but Talking Heads does that to me. 

So, what is this film about? Basically, it takes place in the weeks after the last Spiderman film, set in London, where Spiderman's identity was revealed to the world by Mysterio. And Peter is in a bit of a pickle. Needing his anonymnity back, he enlists Dr Stephen Strange to make this take place, with with disastrous results. A crack in the Multiverse occurs bringing back a number of Spiderman's enemies. Peter has to overcome his greatest challenges to bring the world back to order once again.

I won't say much more than this - I don't want to give any spoilers. 

This is a great movie, especially if you're up on the whole Marvel Universe. I'm not sure younger kids would get a lot of the references and there is a bit of mind bending to work out what is going on some of the time. But I enjoyed every second of it, even down to the two clips which came with the titles - and one at the very end which we had to sit down for while the ushers started to sweep out the spilled popcorn. 

It's got everything. Action: tick. Fun: tick. Emotional stuff: tick. (And yes, I shed a tear in a few places). Brilliant action: tick. Unexpected bits: tick. 

I didn't look at my watch once through the film, which is a guide to me for how much I enjoy a film. 

Jay commented that Tom Holland is getting a little old to play Spiderman - and it will be interesting to see if in further iterations he's playing the titular role, but as a soon to be college student, I think he's just about right. His boyishness and athleticism are fantastic. 

Zendaya is radiant as MJ, Spiderman's ever-present girlfriend and Jacob Batalon is wonderful as Ned, Peter's best mate. And of course, Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as Dr Strange with necessary humour and aplomb. The verbal sparring between Dr Strange and Spiderman brings a lot of the humour to the film. 

On a more emotional level, Marisa Tomei returns as Aunt May. Harvey Weinstein really did a number on the world when he blacklisted Tomei - she's as wonderful in this as in the rest of her films. 

Add to this some great cameos, which I'm not going to say anything  about for those who haven't seen this. There are some top flight  actors joining this film. 

And yes, I did need a bit of a break from reality, but I think even if I wasn't exhausted, I would have loved this. 

It's not just a film for Marvel fans, but I reckon younger kids would get bored and a lot of the nuances would go over their heads. 

It's great holiday watching. Chuck on a mask and go see it. 

Today's song: 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The To Do List

 Things to get done:

  • Not throw a spaz attack at work. 
  • Get in Barney's Christmas beer. 
  • See Spiderman: No Way Home (Done - will write about it tomorrow)
  • Shut down the work computer before 6 pm (2 pm tomorrow)
  • Once work computer is shut down tomorrow, shove it in the back of the cupboard for ten days. 
  • Use my foam roller every day for the next ten days to unkink my back
  • Buy some ice cream
  • Toast the almonds for the cassata
  • Finish the last layer of the cassata for Saturday
  • Tidy up
  • Find somebody to help me finish the cassata after Boxing Day
  • Do the ironing
  • Hoover 
  • Mop the floors
  • Write stuff that doesn't involve work
  • Read
  • Try and relax (the movie did help)

I'm again, that tired nothing is really sticking. 

But tomorrow I knock off for nine or ten days. 

And this is a good thing. 

Today's song: 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Cassata Time

I'm making cassata for our Christmas celebrations. 

The cherries are soaking in brandy. 

The cream is about to be whipped. 

There's ice crream in the freezer, ready to be smoshed through with a melted block of Lindt chocolate. I wonder if my mum still uses Ice Magic. 

There are slivered almonds waiting to be toasted.

But all of this can be done tomorrow, because I've just come back from dinner and I'm knackered. 

Today's Song: 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

I dream of a dozen oysters

 I'm at the stage with work, so long the hours, that I'm hallucinating, doing things I don't mean to do, sayingthings I don't mean to say. 

Like my boss called me this afternoon. I'd managed to gain back 15 minutes out of a meeting and I was going to sit in my reading chair and take ten of those minutes back for myself as an afternoon tea break before the rest of the afternoon's meetings. 

She rang just as I opened by book. 

As Roy Kent is my spirit animal, my opening line to her was the following: 

I didn't get my reading afternoon break. Que sera...

On the good side of things, my delivery of Mr Black's coffee liqueur turned up today. And soem Coffee Old Fashioned cocktail mix. It's the small things. 

And as my subversive side was let out today, I got my Christmas presents wrapped during one of those boring meetings and my Christmas shopping finished after the gym. It's important to claw some time back. I also did a few lines of knitting in the same meeting. It makes me feel good. 

But tonight, I shut my computer off at 5.45 pm, put on my gym gear and got myself off to a 6.30 pm Core Class - which was the perfect antidote to a difficult day, full of being pulled in front the head of the project  to show her how I do my calculatoins, having to front compliance about a streamlining of our processes and getting a heap of other work done. 

Core class, a half hour of sweating through routines with sit ups, mountain climbers, stretchy band wood chops... you name it, we did it, helped restore a bit of equilibrium. 

But now, I'm just trying to relax before I do my ironing. I'm thinking about what it would be like to eat a dozen oysters, washed down with some French champagne. Maybe a little granita to cleanse the palate as they go down? Maybe I could go to the fishmonger on Christmas Eve and buy myself a Christmas Eve treat. Jonella and I are looking to go to Richmond Oysters for dinner sometime after New Years. But that is too long to wait. 

Maybe I'm just channeling Christmas at home, where we normally have seafood and salad for lunch - not the traditional hot roast. Nothing is better than a big feed of prawns. 

But just at the moment, I'm dreaming of a dozen oysters, ice chilled and sitting on a plate. Oh the decadence, the simple, sumptuous nature of those slippery little suckers as they tumble down your throat. 

I'll take anything which makes me feel a little less stressed and tired than I've been feeling of late. 

Today's song: 

Monday, December 20, 2021

Theatre Review: As You Like It

 The Play: As You Like It by William Shakespeare

Where: Melbourne Theatre Company

Stars: 3.5

Season ended 18 December.

Jay and I caught the penultimate performance of the MTC's lastest rendition of As You Like It on Saturday at the matinee session. 

To be honest, I wasn't quite convinced, although it was lovely to put in my Shakespearean babelfish and relax into the language which I love so well. We were supposed to go last Friday night, but a technical issue saw the performance cancelled, and we were luck to be able to exchange our tickets for this performance. 

As You Like It isn't my favourite Shakespeare either. Never has been, never will be. It's one of the lightweight pastoral comedies, where there are banishments and running around the forest and cross dressing and it's all very silly. Yes, it has some fabulous speeches within the silliness, but it's a fluffy play. Not being in a silly frame of mind, I had to look for the good in other places in this rather banal play. 

And yes, the costumes and staging were sumptuous, although it was hard to tell the male characters apart as they all looked the same. The set was lovely too, although I'm not too sure why they had floating goat heads up the back of the stage - they were off-putting (the sheep portrayed at the Pop Up Globe were much more engaging). 

This was Christy Whelan-Browne's production as she outshone most of the cast as a very strong Rosalind. James Mackay's Orlando grew in strength as the performance went on, and both Natalie Abbott as Phebe and Tim Walter as the lugubrious Jaques brought a lot of light to the production.

Added to this, Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall put their stamp on the production composing the music, which was great - though the sight of Richard Piper playing the guitar left-handed felt a bit jarring. The music was really well done, I'll give it that. 

But I found the first half quite stunted, though not dry enough to have me walk out, as the woman who was sitting next to me did, but the second half made up for it. 

Above all, it was lovely to be back in the theatre watching a Shakespearean play. Though not up there with some of the greats done by the MTC - and I'm thinking about the superlative Richard III from fifteen years ago, this was a more than adequate, end of year performance, which on reflection, I liked more than I disliked. 

Today's song: 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Sunday Stealing: Fauxlore Part II

 Another Sunday, another set of questions, provided, as always, by Bev at Sunday Stealing. 

It's a very social weekend for me. Off to a barbeque in a bit, so I best get on with this. 

16. Do you want any piercings?

No, I'm happy with just having my ears pierced. They were pierced twice, but the second set of holes appear to have closed over from lack of use. 

17. What’s your mouse pad look like?

I don't have a mouse pad. I use a notebook as my mouse pad when needed. 

18. Have you ever been to a psychic/tarot reader?

I read tarot to a professional level and have been to many tarot readers over the years - however, I don't go to psychics. They tend to freak me out. At least with tarot readers I know what is going on and how they operate. 

19. How do you identify spiritually (do you follow a religion, what do you think about soul/spirit, etc.)?

I can tell you what I'm not rather that what I am. I'm not a Christian, nor do I afflliate with any other major organised religion. However, I do believe in god, though I can't tell you what that is. I'm pretty spiritual. I also go to Kabbalah meditation once a fortnight. And there are Wiccan elements to my practices. And I'm a Freemason. So yeah, a Spiritual Agnostic is what I put on the forms when asked abut my religion. Or if that isn't an option, I put down no religion. 

20. Do you prefer your nails long or short?

I like my nails short-ish. That is my fingernails I like a nice plain mid-length. Too long and I can't type. Too short and you can't find the end of the sticky tape (cellotape/scotch tape). My toenails I like to keep very short. 

21. What are your favorite smells?

In no apparent order: 

  • Dog's paws in the morning
  • Cookie Man cookies when they are fresh out of the oven
  • Night blooming jasmine
  • Asphalt when it starts to rain on a really hot day
  • Quality perfume - currently wearing Juliette's Got a Gun's Not a Perfume. 
  • Clean, freshly washed men
  • Roast Lamb

22. Do you still use a radio or just use your phone/computer for music?

I don't own a radio - the only radio I listen to is the one in my car when I forget to bring my phone, which links in via Bluetooth and plays music and audiobooks. 

23. What kind of socks do you prefer to wear?

Most of my socks are ankle socks  or footlets which get worn when I wear my running shoes. I have some nice longer, cotton socks for when I wear boots. 

24. Do you have any family heirlooms?

Not really. I have my father's box brownie camera and the pewter tankard he was given for his 21st birthday. I also have Mum's engagement ring. She received another when she married my stepdad. I still think my grandmother's collander is a bit of a heirloom. We're not a heirloom kind of family. 

25. Are there any musicians you didn't like at first but grew on you?

Ah, I hate to say it, but I didn't like George Michael way back when, but I really like him now. Still not overly fond of Wham! and I'm actively avoiding shopping centres so I don't get #Whamageddon-ed, but George Michael is now great. If I don't like some music, I tend not to ever really like it. 

26. Is there anything you used to love but now dislike?

In no order: 

  • Bananas
  • Mark Latham - I voted for him 15 years ago, now he's a complete pillock.
  • Sweet wine
  • Chick Lit
  • Running. I wish I could run. I don't dislike running, but it really does my joints no favours.

27. Your favorite place to be aside from your home?

Movies theatres and the beach. Or just outside in the gardens around Melbourne. 

28. What is your favorite kind of tea?

I don't drink much tea, and when I do, it's the normal black tea - but I really like Earl Grey tea. And Lapsang Souchong, when you can find it. 

29. Any old home remedies you use when you're sick?

Flat Woodroofe's lemonade when you have a funny tummy is the best. And lemon, honey, hot water and an asprin for a cold helps a lot too. 

30. What level of brightness do you usually keep your phone at?

It's normally set around mid-range. I don't like it too bright. 

Today's song: 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Movie Review: The French Dispatch

 Movie: The French Dispatch

Theatre: Village Rivoli Camberwell

Stars: 4

I'm biased. I love Wes Anderson films, and I've been waiting for this for an age. Pastiche, stylised comedy and violence, strange characters, tableaus - you name it, you know it's going to be in there - and The French Dispatch had them all. It's what I call titter-funny, where you sit there and snort at the absurdity and cleverness of the whole thing. It's not belly laugh funny, but the snort in your coffee and smirk into your choc top sort of funny. 

If you liked The Grand Budepest Hotel, you'll like this - though I think The Grand Budapest Hotel is Anderson at his finest. 

This movie is a love song to the ever-disappearing print media, and if you keep this in mind, you're find. What lets this film down a bit is that it's a trio of tales, rather than one full story. The overlay of story is that the French Dispatch is supposedly a weekly magazine, published out of Ennui in France, for the Liberty Kansas Evening News. Party travelog, part food pages, part society rag, it's a passion piece published by Arthur Howitzer Jr. (Bill Murray). As a writer, some of the quips that came out of the first part of the film were very in jokes. I was with Teddy, and she couldn't quite get why I was giggling. 

There are three stories to the film. The first, from the art pages, after a bit about cycing with Herbsaint Sazerac - which is cute, and short. 

The next section is the art pages, by J.K.L. Berenson, played by the marvellous Anderson stalwart, Tilda Swinton. The story is of a painter, Moses Rosenthaler (played brilliantly by Benecio Del Toro and Tony Revolori) who is painting from a lunatic asylum. The asylum art show is visited by some critics who love his work and want more. And hilarity ensues. I found this to be the stand out section, with a killer cast. Lea Seydoux, Henry Winkler, Adrien Brody, Bob Balaban and just wonderful. 

The next section, about student activists by Lucinda Krementz (Frances McDormand) who is following some ongoing riots in Ennui, lead by the ever beautiful Zeffirelli (Timothee Chalamet). I know Mr Chalamet is an adult, but he still looks 12, and it's a bit strange looking on at this beautiful youth, but these guys are great as well. 

And the last section is the cooking section, which leads to a shaggy dog story with Jeffrey Wright as Roebuck Wright, who follows a police caper as well as the police cook's involvement in this.

In all, it's not the easiest film to follow, but it has a stellar cast, it's got that wonderful Wes Anderson aethetic about it.

It made me very happy on a warm Friday night.  It's not for everybody, bit if you like something different and have a warped sense of humour like mine, hunt it out. It's great/ 

Today's song:

Friday, December 17, 2021

Answer me this

Girl washing day. 
  • Sort the coloureds from the whites. 
  • Wash the coloureds and whites separately
  • Wash the coloureds at 40 degrees, using a scoop of washing powder and a dose of fabric softener. 
  • Wash the whites at 60 degree, using a scoop of wasing powder, a dose of fabric soften and some white booster. 
  • Get the washing out on the line or on the drying rack as soon as humanly possible. 
  • Bring in the clothes from the line as soon as they are dry.
  • Sort the ironables from the non-ironables. 
  • Put away said clothes. 
  • Iron the ironables - this includes duvet covers and pillowcases. 
  • Feel a sense of pride
Boys washing day: 
  • Throw all items in the washing machine
  • Do not sort the whites from the coloureds
  • Set the washing machine just as you're going out. 
  • Leave the wet washing in the machine for two days
  • Hang out the washing on the clothesline without re-washing. 
  • Leave the clothes on the line for at least 48 hours
  • Decide, on taking the clothes in from the line that they don't smell that good. 
  • Throw out the clothes and buy new ones
  • Or put them in the machine again and start the process over. 
I just don't get how people can wash their clothes, then leave them in the machine to fester, or leave them on the line for days on end.

I just don't get it. 

Or maybe I'm just my mother's daughter, forever obsessed with having clean clothes and always having the fear that I'll run out of clean knickers. 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

It's that day again

 It's that day again. 

And it rolls around every year,

When the weather gets better

And the Christmas decorations shine in shop windows.

And we try to avoid #Whammageddon. 

But it's that day again. 

And you're still not here. 

You're not living your life, 

Or driving a car, 

Or bringing home that boyfriend your father secretly hates

Or doing anything you should be. 

And it's that day again. 

I remember the day, way back when . 

Back when the world felt a bit more rosy

The news less harsh

 The body free from these shocks.

And I remember the feeling of relief when the news came through. 

You were gone and no longer in pain.

And the lights dimmed. 

And never came back to full brightness. 

So, it's that day again. 

And I remember you well. 

I remember you well, and happy. 

I remember your silky skin and stinky breath

Your addictive giggle and your lovely hugs. 

I remember your potential. 

I remember your loving spirit. 

And I remember that on this day, like all days. 

That you're not here anymore. 

But we still feel your love. 

I hope you feel us feeling you. 

Rest well, Lauren. xx

Today's song: 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Next Year's Books Part 3

And now for the last four books from our book group book choosing. Thanks for bearing with me on this. 

So here we go. 

September: The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

We read the author's amazing Ten Minutes, 38 Seconds in this Strange World the year before last, so it would be rude not to put this one up for consideration. 

According to Goodreads, "Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. In the taverna, hidden beneath garlands of garlic, chili peppers and creeping honeysuckle, Kostas and Defne grow in their forbidden love for each other. A fig tree stretches through a cavity in the roof, and this tree bears witness to their hushed, happy meetings and eventually, to their silent, surreptitious departures. The tree is there when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, and when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns. He is a botanist looking for native species, but really, he’s searching for lost love.

Years later, a Ficus carica grows in the back garden of a house in London where Ada Kazantzakis lives. This tree is her only connection to an island she has never visited - her only connection to her family’s troubled history and her complex identity as she seeks to untangle years of secrets to find her place in the world.

A moving, beautifully written and delicately constructed story of love, division, transcendence, history and eco-consciousness, The Island of Missing Trees is Elif Shafak’s best work yet"

I'm really looking forward to this one. 

October:  Love and Virtue by Diana Reid

This was my choice and there have been a lot of great reviews on this Australian novel, set in a University College - somewhere I lived in the eighties. 

The Goodreads blurb gives a lot of themes which will go down well for our book group discussions. 

"Feminism, power and sex play out through the eyes of young Australian uni students in a contemporary narrative that is fiercely authentic

Whenever I say I was at university with Eve, people ask me what she was like, sceptical perhaps that she could have always been as whole and self-assured as she now appears. To which I say something like: ‘People are infinitely complex.’ But I say it in such a way—so pregnant with misanthropy—that it’s obvious I hate her.

​Michaela and Eve are two bright, bold women who befriend each other their first year at a residential college at university, where they live in adjacent rooms. They could not be more different; one assured and popular – the other uncertain and eager-to-please. But something happens one night in O-week – a drunken encounter, a foggy memory that will force them to confront the realities of consent and wrestle with the dynamics of power.

Initially bonded by their wit and sharp eye for the colleges’ mix of material wealth and moral poverty, Michaela and Eve soon discover how fragile friendship is, and how capable of betrayal they both are.

Written with a strikingly contemporary voice that is both wickedly clever and incisive, issues of consent, class and institutional privilege, and feminism become provocations for enduring philosophical questions we face today."

November:  Piranesi  by Susana Clarke

Ah, Piranesi - I listened to this as an audiobook earlier this year and loved this short, strange tome. I'm not sure how it will go down in book group, but I'm really pleased it's got up. 

A bit on Piranesi, according to Goodreads:

"Piranesi's house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known."

I think this is going to be a contentious one. Still, I love it. 

December: Malibu Rising  by Taylor Jenkins Reid

We selected this book to read in December because it appears to be lighter than a lot of the other books we have on the list - and December is when we do our book choosing. Also, after reading the phenomenal Daisy Jones and The Six but the same author, I piped up, "Party Book", and it was all sorted. Jenkins Reid does great things with voices - so I hope this doesn't disappoint.

For a bit more information, Goodreads says, "Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them... and what they will leave behind."

And that is our booklist for the year.

Please feel free to read along with us. I love talking about books with people. 

Today's song: 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Next Year's Books Part 2

 Going on from last night's post, here are the next few books we will be reading for book group next year. 

May: The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey

I'm really glad this got up. It won the Miles Franklin and it's one of the more literary books of the field. 

Goodreads describes it as such:

"Erica Marsden’s son, an artist, has been imprisoned for a monstrous act of revenge. Trapped in her grief, Erica retreats from Sydney to a sleepy hamlet on the south coast, near where Daniel is serving his sentence.

There, in a rundown shack by the ocean, she obsesses over building a labyrinth. To create it—to navigate the path through her quandary—Erica will need the help of strangers. And that will require her to trust, and to reckon with her past.

The Labyrinth is a story of guilt and denial, of the fraught relationship between parents and children. It is also an examination of how art can be ruthlessly destructive, and restorative. Mesmerising yet disquieting, it shows Amanda Lohrey to be at the peak of her powers."

According to Deb, who put up the book, it is a masterpiece. I'm really looking forward to this one. 

June: Devotion by Hannah Kent

Blarney beat me me to it, as I was going to put this one one. I love Hannah Kent. Her Burial Rites is a masterpiece and I'm interested where this very personal book of hers will go. 

The Goodreads blurb states "1836, Prussia. Hanne is nearly fifteen and the domestic world of womanhood is quickly closing in on her. A child of nature, she yearns instead for the rush of the river, the wind dancing around her. Hanne finds little comfort in the local girls and friendship doesn't come easily, until she meets Thea and she finds in her a kindred spirit and finally, acceptance.

Hanne's family are Old Lutherans, and in her small village hushed worship is done secretly - this is a community under threat. But when they are granted safe passage to Australia, the community rejoices: at last a place they can pray without fear, a permanent home. Freedom.

It's a promise of freedom that will have devastating consequences for Hanne and Thea, but, on that long and brutal journey, their bond proves too strong for even nature to break."

It's a book that is partly about South Australia. How can we go wrong?

July: Bright Burning Things by Lisa Harding

Jonella recommended this one, and it was very popular in the group. Jonella has read it and recommends it, so I'm interested in what it is like. 

The Goodreads blurb states, "Sonya used to perform on stage. She attended glamorous parties, dated handsome men, rode in fast cars. But somewhere along the way, the stage lights Sonya lived for dimmed to black. In their absence, came darkness—blackouts, empty cupboards, hazy nights she could not remember.

Haunted by her failed career and lingering trauma from her childhood, Sonya fell deep into an alcoholic abyss. What kept her from losing herself completely was Tommy, her son. But her love for Tommy rivaled her love for the bottle. Addiction amplified her fear of losing her child; every maternal misstep compelled her to drink. Tommy’s precious life was in her shaky hands. 

Eventually Sonya was forced to make a choice. Give up drinking or lose Tommy—forever."

It looks interesting. 

And the last one for today: 

August: A Room Called Earth by Madelaine Ryan

Another one for me to get excited about. We regularly have books about the neurodiverse, but not many about women who are on the spectrum. This book got the most lolly votes off of the group. 

Goodreads describes it as, "An unforgettable story of a fiercely original young woman, whose radical perspective illuminates a new way of being in the world

As a full moon rises over Melbourne, Australia, a young woman gets ready for a party. And what appears to be an ordinary night out is--through the prism of her singular perspective--extraordinary. As the evening unfolds, each encounter she has reveals the vast discrepancies between what she is thinking and feeling, and what she is able to say. And there's so much she'd like to say. So when she meets a man and a genuine connection occurs, it's nothing short of a miracle. However, it isn't until she invites him home that we come to appreciate the humanity beneath the labels we cling to, and we can grasp the pleasure of what it means to be alive.

The debut novel from the inimitable Madeleine Ryan, A Room Called Earth is a humorous and heartwarming adventure inside the mind of a bright and dynamic woman. This hyper-saturated celebration of love and acceptance, from a neurodiverse writer, is a testament to moving through life without fear, and to opening ourselves up to a new way of relating to one another."

And it's a book about Melbourne. Yay. 

I'll let you know about the last four books tomorrow night after what is promising to be a long day at work in the office. 

Today's song: 

Monday, December 13, 2021

Next Year's Books Part 1

 We had our book group's annual book choosing yesterday, and it was awesome, as always. 

For a start, it was only the second time this year we has got to meet in person, lock downs meaning that an online meet up was better for us all. Being honest, I like the Zoom meetings - you can hear everybody speak and the booze is cheapter. 

And we had our annual lolly vote - which went well, other than being a warm afternoon, the clinkers melted a bit. Never to mind. We came, we saw, we championed our books, we stapped on a rubber glove and placed lollies on the books we wanted to read. 

And what a great book list we have. 

So here is what was chosen. 

The also rans include the following. Meg Mason's Sorrow and Bliss - still not sure how this missed out on being chosen.  Elle Baxter's New Animal intrigued me so much I went and bought a copy on the way home, even though we're not doing it for book group. Thirty pages in and I'm not disappointed, though it reminds me of Jessie Tu's A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing. And Mary Gibbons The Bermondsey Bookshop and Jock Serong's The Rules of Backyard Cricket didn't make it. 

Anyway, here is our book group's booklist for next year. 

January: Bird Summons by Leila Abuelela

Fee put this up and it intruiged me. says it's about the following:

"In her adventurous new novel, New York Times Notable author Leila Aboulela delivers a lively portrait of three women who embark on a journey of self-discovery while grappling with the conflicting demands of family, duty, and faith.

When Salma, Moni, and Iman--friends and active members of their local Muslim Women's group--decide to take a road trip together to the Scottish Highlands, they leave behind lives often dominated by obligation, frustrated desire, and dull predictability. Each wants something more out of life, but fears the cost of taking it. Salma is successful and happily married, but tempted to risk it all when she's contacted by her first love back in Egypt; Moni gave up a career in banking to care for her disabled son without the help of her indifferent husband; and Iman, in her twenties and already on her third marriage, longs for the freedom and autonomy she's never known. When the women are visited by the Hoopoe, a sacred bird from Muslim and Celtic literature, they are compelled to question their relationships to faith and femininity, love, loyalty, and sacrifice."

It sounds great. 

February: The Island of See Women by Lisa See

The book's about Korean women who dive for food - they've done it for centuries. The author also wrote The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, which I wasn't overly enamoured with, but others loved it and this one got up. Jonella will be leading the discussion on this one. 

March: Scary Monsters by Michele de Kretser

I put up this one, admiring what de Kretser has done in other books, and loving the premise of this. 

The book jacket says. "Michelle de Kretser's electrifying take on scary monsters turns the novel upside down - just as migration has upended her characters' lives.

Lili's family migrated to Australia from Asia when she was a teenager. Now, in the 1980s, she's teaching in the south of France. She makes friends, observes the treatment handed out to North African immigrants and is creeped out by her downstairs neighbour. All the while, Lili is striving to be A Bold, Intelligent Woman like Simone de Beauvoir.

Lyle works for a sinister government department in near-future Australia. An Asian migrant, he fears repatriation and embraces 'Australian values'. He's also preoccupied by his ambitious wife, his wayward children and his strong-minded elderly mother. Islam has been banned in the country, the air is smoky from a Permanent Fire Zone, and one pandemic has already run its course.

Three scary monsters - racism, misogyny and ageism - roam through this mesmerising novel. Its reversible format enacts the disorientation that migrants experience when changing countries changes the story of their lives. With this suspenseful, funny and profound book, Michelle de Kretser has made something thrilling and new.

'Which comes first, the future or the past?'

The book comes in two halves - and the biggest dilemma the reader faces is which side of the book to start on - the white covered side, or the red covered side. 

April: Plum by Brendan Cowell

More Australian fodder, put on the list by Norty. 

The Goodread's blurb reads:

"The wildly impressive, raucously funny and deeply moving second novel from award-winning writer, actor and director for television, theatre and film, Brendan Cowell, confirming the talent he showed in his bestselling debut novel from 2010, How It Feels.

Peter 'The Plum' Lum is a 49-year-old ex-star NRL player, living with his son and girlfriend in Cronulla. He's living a pretty cruisey life until one day he suffers an epileptic fit and discovers that he has a brain disorder as a result of the thousand-odd head knocks he took on the footy field in his twenty-year-career. According to his neurologist, Plum has to make some changes - right now - or it's dementia, or even death.

Reluctantly, Plum embarks on a journey of self-care and self-discovery, which is not so easy when all you've ever known is to go full tilt at everything. On top of this, he's being haunted by dead poets, and, unable to stop crying, discovers he has a special gift for the spoken word. With spectral visits from Bukowski and Plath, the friendship of local misfits, and the prospect of new love, Plum might just save his own life.

From award-winning writer, director and actor, Brendan Cowell, Plum is a powerfully moving, authentic, big-hearted, angry and joyous novel of men, their inarticulate pain and what it takes for them to save themselves - from themselves. It's got a roaring energy, a raucous humour, a heart of gold and a poetic soul.

'Exploring masculinity and the healing power of language with great humour, grace and whimsy, Plum is a bighearted, raw and joyous take on what it means to be a man in modern Australia.' Sunday Times

'The audacious inclusion of literary outlaws ... the muscular viscerality of his language ... [Plum is] a Shire pastoral that yearns for a nostalgia fantasy of The Golden Days ... I wonder whether Plath was inspired by the great Peter Lum. Or if Whitman wrote Leaves of Grass observing a spear of summer grass while sitting in Shark Park one lonely Sunday afternoon.' Sydney Morning Herald (less)."

It looks like a good yarn and I'm looking forward to reading this. 

I'll provide details of the rest of the books over the next few days. It will give me something to write about. 

Today's song: 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Sunday Stealing: Fauxklore

 I'm just back from book group and our annual book choosing meeting. It was lovely just to be in the company of the wonderful women of the group (and one of the best behaved nine-year-old boys I've ever had the pleasure of meeting) The book list is now set for the year. 

And all is well with the world. 

Questions, as always, have been provided by Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. Have you ever been caught outdoors away from shelter during a thunderstorm?

Yes, quite a few times. I know the last time it happened I was going to dinner in town. A large thunderstorm hit the streets - I was about 200 metres from the restaurant. I arrived soaked through to the skin. 

2. Did you ever build furniture forts as a child?

Of course I did. I was a child of the seventies. It's what we did. Everybody used to do this on wet weekends. Furniture and blanket forts were the best. I wish we could build one now. 

3. Do you use any medicines daily? 

Just a blood pressure pill and HRT. Both are necessary. Both keep me ticking over well. The latter keeps me from going pyscho. 

4. When was the last time you used a disposable camera?

Probably about twenty years ago at a friend's wedding. I'm not sure you can still buy disposable cameras any more - most people use their phones to take photos. 

5. When was the last time you flew on a plane?

15 March 2020. I was coming back from a trip to Sydney. I really miss flying. So far I've got a trip to Adelaide booked for April, there may be one or two trips to Sydney for work if it can be winged and I can see myself going to Canberra for a funeral in the not to distant future, unfortunately. 

6. How many first cousins do you have?

15. Ten on Mum's side, five on Dad's side. And I get on well with nearly all of my cousins. I'm in regular contact with a few of them. I'm lucky like that. 

7. What’s the longest period of time you’ve gone without sleep?

About 48 hours. Normally when I've been taking long haul flights as I don't sleep well on planes. I sleep well that second night. 

8. Did the house you grew up in have a big yard?

I grew up on 40 acres of land, so is that big enough for you. When I was younger, we had a place in the suburbs of Adelaide, but that was a standard quarter acre block. When I was a young child, everybody had a back yard with a quarter acre block if  you lived in the suburbs. 

9. What has been the most difficult class you’ve ever taken?

That was probably physics, probably because the teacher was so crap. Physics is the one class I failed at school. 

10. What’s something that’s much more difficult than a lot of people realize?

My job. Technical writing. People are under the impression that anybody cab do my job. It is a lot harder than most people think it is - to do it really well, there are so many considerations which non-technical writers will never think about. 

11. What are some things a house would need to have for you to purchase it?

If I was to every buy a house or flat, it would need the following things: 

  • Air conditioning
  • A bath tub. 
  • Ample cupboard space
  • Either a small courtyard or large balcony
  • Close to public transport
  • Floorboards - not carpets
  • Plenty of powerpoints
  • Good fly screens to keep the flies out
I'm pretty practical when it all come down to it. 

12. Would you ever go out in public wearing pajamas?

I have done this a couple of times, but on those occasions I was either going to a pyjama party, or in the case of the last time I did this, I was off to a performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and I was going as Magenta, when she and Columbia were spying on Janet and Rocky. Easiest Rocky Horror Costume out there. 

13. Have you ever had a lemonade stand?

No. Sorry, I think this might be an American thing. 

14. Do you think you look older or younger than your real age?

I'm regularly told I look a lot younger than my current years. Normally ten years younger. This is a good thing. 

15. Where have you lived throughout your life?

Now let me see: 

From birth until I was eight we lived in the Southern Suburbs of Adelaide. 

From eight until 17, I was located at Myponga, South Australia., 

From 17 until 23, I was in Adelaide. 

From 23-31, I lived in London. 

And I moved to Melbourne when I was 31... with a few months on a Greek Island when I was 34. 

Don't ask me how many times I've moved house - that happened far too often in my London and early Melbourne days. 

Today's song

Saturday, December 11, 2021

The Assessors

A house in the next street is having a party. There is the thrum of doof doof music. The party lights are illuminating the street. I'm not in the mood for this. 

This morning we had meditation. Other than commiting the terrible sin of being late, thanks to a laptop requiring rebooting, we then had a meditation on the sephirot of Gevurah. I've been going to meditation for over 15 years. We've been doing the same meditations for this time  - Kabbalah meditations, which cycle through over the years, so we won't repeat the meditation for another two years or so. 

Anyway, in today's meditation, we met the Assessors of Maat. This comes straight from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, where under the eye of the goddess Maat, we meet the 42 assessors, who assess our lives to see if we are allowed into heaven. You have to answer the questions truthfully. Theses are morality questions. Have you blasphemed, been an adulterer, have you been a glutton, have you killed or maimed. Fairly standard stuff, although these questions are there to trip you up and play on your conscience.

And then there is the last question. The question which trips me up every time. The question which cancels everything out and when Maat gets out her scales, reaches into your heart to bring out your essence and weigh against a feather, the scales will balance.

The question is "Is there anybody alive who is glad that you were born."

Hand on heart, I don't know how to answer that question. 

The best I get is a "I hope so." I like to think the answer is yes.

But it's been playing on my mind all day. Which is what it's supposed to do. 

Today's song: 

Friday, December 10, 2021

Ponyfish Island

 I've wanted to go here for well on twenty years. Ponyfish Island is a bit of an enigma - a bar situated on the Yarra under what I call Coathanger Bridge - which has another name (Evan Walker Bridge), but it looks like a big coathanger, so we'll call it that. I've just never had the chance to go there - or had the person to take there - others wanting to drink in more mainstream places. Of late, we've had the long lockdowns, or on Friday night, wehave tended to have a sneaky gin and tonic in the office, rather than going out for an end-of-week bender. Besides, being over forty, it's not something you do very often anyway. 

Thanks to a boss who wanted to go for a drink, dinner at six before a play and the desire to have a copule of gin and tonics, I got my wish. 

We had a long lunch before - after all, it is Christmas and the boss was down from Sydney, and after the last few weeks, it was well deserved break from the chaos. 

And a necessary long lunch and drink it was. 

I'd be quite happy to have stayed for more than two gin and tonics. I mean, one glorious Four Pillars Olive Leave Gin (with tonic and olives) and an Applewood Gin from the Adelaide Hills. I would have happily settled in. Ponyfish Island is a great place to put the world to rights. 

Alas, dinner reservations were set for 6.00 p.m. meant cutting things short. 

But it was a very pleasant evening indeed. 

It's just a pity the play was cancelled. I was looking forward to a fix of Shakespeare. But dinner was nice, and the tickets have been reschedule for next weekend and life feels a little bit better for the while. 

It's all we can want for. And something else has been crossed off the bucket list. 

Today's song: 

Thursday, December 9, 2021


I've done this every year for the last thirteen or fourteen years. The annualy book group lolly bagging for the annual book group book choosing. 

It involves obtaining a gross of lollies (or sweeties, or wrapped candies if you're American), some rubber gloves and baggies. 

Then, I sit on the couch, place 25 sweets in a bag with a rubber glove, recount the lollies, the seal the bags up. On the day of the book choosing, I have to make sure the lollies get to the book choosing destination - which will mean transporting them to the restaurant at lunchtime on Sunday. 

I remember one of the first times I did this. A friend was over - he wanted to know what the hell I was doing. From memory, he ate a lot of the lollies and I had to go find another bag of Jaffas to make the numbers even. (Nine people in book group - 225 lollies are required). 

This year I bought in Minties and a bag of mixed traditionals, and a bag of mixed wrapped lollies with some Australian favourites including what used to be called Redskins (a not very PC name, which has been changed to Red Rippers). And of course, I had to throw in a bag of Clinkers, because when you ask the book group, they want to vote with Clinkers. Clinkers are not wrapped. For hygiene purposes, that is why we have a rubber glove in the bag. When we vote on the books, we use the rubber glove so we can safely eat the lollies later. 

After the vote, those lollies which are not taken home are given to the wait staff. It goes down a treat.

The books are decided for the year. Everybody is happy. 

I've given up asking if anybody else wants to be book bitch - arranging the meetings, sending out reminders on our facebook group, arranging the lolly vote... it's not a bad job. 

And this year, I had help. 

All we have to do now is have to vote, which is being held over lunch on Sunday. The book list is set. I can't say nothing at the moment, that would spoil the fun for the book group members who occasionally read this blog. 

It gave me something different and relaxing to do last night.

Today's song: 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Give me some Christopher Walken

It wasn't a bad day by any stretch, but being the first day back in the office, being surrounded by people, I've come away from the day drained. 

There was the dentist appointment after work. Nothing bad, just the normal six monthly check up. It seems my dentist has just started with orthodontics. After the normal check and clean he had another poke around, asked me to close my teeth and swallow. 

It appears I'm a tongue thruster. That sounds quite rude.

He's been my dentist for over fifteen years. It's the first time he's mentioned my open bite. He said that the movement of my tongue is why the open bite is happening and we can do something about it. 

But why? My teeth are reasonably straight. I don't have jaw pain. I'm not a mouth breather. 

He says I could have a contraption that goes in my mouth that helps train my tongue not to go forward. It would maybe help correct the open bite and maybe alleviate the lisp I've had for fifty years. Of course, then there's the braces....

Ah, hard pass. I don't think I could cope with adult braces. Beides, do I really need them? Not really. 

But this was a strange conversation after a long day.

After the walk home, I came in to the news that a friend of mine is facing her second cancer battle. A different cancer to the last one. She's strong. She has a treatable cancer with good odds, but it's still a blow. For me, it's more that we're of similar age, both single, both of us live with our cats... the thoough of being being taken out like this for months of treatment is one of my biggest fears. We've been chatting over the evening. Her strength, outlook and grace are an inspiration. 

So with all that, I got home and needed a smile. 

I turned to Christopher Walken. Dancing.

Christopher Walken dancing fixes most things. 

I would love to dance like Christopher Walken. 

I love that he looks so happy when he dances. He's having fun. He's cheeky. And he's full of lanky charm. He makes me smile. 

It's all any of us need, really. 

Today's song:

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Lost in Austen

This month's first audiobook is Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, as read by Rosamund Pike. 

I'm loving it.

This year has been the year of the audiobook. I took them up last Christmas, knowing that I had a couple of long drives ahead, and I find audiobooks and podcasts keep me more engaged than music on the long drives. But instead of stopping my subscription, I kept it up - and it's been wonderful. 

I've listened to a full cast read George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo - which came out with a similar air to Dylan Thomas's Under Milkwood - which I know I want to listen to again soon, and preferably with Welsh voices. I read Lincoln in the Bardo, but the audiobook brought a whole new edge to it. 

The other fully casted book I listened to was Taylor Jenkins Reid's Daisy Jones and The Six. Listening to the various voices tell the story of the rise and fall of a mythical and iconic rock band was just too good (and is there ever a time when Judy Greer doesn't play the best friend? She was awesome as Karen Karen). 

There has been the odd duff book. There was a Bill Bryson one which had a really hokey, American Mid-West narrator who did my head in for the first hour or so. There's also been the odd book which I haven't taken to, but on the whole, I'm finding audiobooks a great way to keep up my reading. They're great for the tram or in the car, or just walking to the supermarket and back. 

Another good thing about having an Audible subscription is there are all these free books you can download. I obtained Clementine Ford's How We Love that way (and that is a MARVELLOUS book). Another find was Larissa Behrendt's After Story - another gem, a sort of First Nation's fish out of water story about a mother and daughter travelling around England on a literary tour. All of these books are available to you - and you can do other things while you listen to them.

 But back to Austen. Of course I know about Sense and Sensibility. I was sixteen when I first read it. I was bemused I can still name Austen's six novels without blinking (Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and the unfinished Sanditon.) but I havem't read these in ages. Audiobook is the way to go. 

And I do love Sense and Sensibility. I love what Emma Thompson did with it in the nineties.

And I'm loving listening to Rosamund Pike read this novel. As a narrator, she's awesome. She's got the voice of the main characters just right. 

And I forgot just how funny Austen can be. She's got a biting, astringent wit which courses through the novel. which is keeping me very entertained as I walk, drive, sit on the tram or just relax. 

What more could you want?